Thursday, May 01, 2008
Chocolate Pecan Squares
I've had this recipe for Chocolate Pecan Squares in the back of my mind for a while (oh, since about issue 70.) I just needed the right occasion to make them. The kids don't eat cookies with nuts in them and I didn't want make a whole tray of cookies, especially rich ones like these, for just me and dear husband.
A request for cookies for a school event arrived in my son's backpack one afternoon and I knew immediately that I would give these a try. This way I could make them, taste them and send them away for others to enjoy (far, far away from my snacking hands.) These cookies have just about everything going for them: a buttery crumb crust, a layer of bittersweet chocolate and a sticky pecan topping. I thought they were fantastic. I made them in a quarter sheet pan instead of a 9 by 9. The topping came up to the rim and I was scared it might bubble over but it worked out fine. It gave me a bigger yield of cookies but a little thinner of a crust.
When I make them again, I will decrease the honey a little because I think the topping could be a little less sweet. If you make them in a slightly bigger pan, you might want a little more grated chocolate, maybe an ounce more. Also, my mom thought I could decrease the cinnamon, but that is a matter of taste. I believe this recipe was originally part of a mexican menu, and cinnamon/chocolate is a classic Mexican combination. You might have to run a thin knife around the edge to loosen the sticky topping, but the crust comes out of the bottom very easily. So don't worry about using parchment or greasing the pan. There's plenty o' butter in the crust to take care of that.
by Paula Disbrowe, David Norman
Yields sixteen 2-1/2 inch squares.
For the cookie base:
6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. table salt
2 oz. finely grated bittersweet chocolate (a scant 1/2 cup)
For the pecan topping:
10 oz. pecans (3 cups), toasted
1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. table salt
how to make
Make the cookie base: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Put the butter in a food processor, along with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse until the mixture is well combined (about 20 pulses). Scatter the dough into a 9x9-inch baking pan and press it evenly over the bottom. (Wipe out the processor bowl but don’t bother washing it.) Bake the base until firm and lightly browned, about 25 min. When the cookie base comes out of the oven, sprinkle the grated chocolate evenly over the top. (Don’t turn off the oven.) Set the pan aside.
Make the pecan topping: As the cookie base bakes, pulse the pecans in the food processor until coarsely chopped. In a medium-size heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the dark brown sugar, honey, cream, and salt. Simmer for 1 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in the pecans. Pour the pecan mixture over the chocolate-sprinkled cookie base, spreading evenly. Bake until much of the filling is bubbling (not just the edges), 16 to 18 min. Let cool completely in the pan. When ready to serve, cut into 16 squares. Tightly covered, these bars will keep for about five days (though they never last that long).
From Fine Cooking 70, pp. 34-39